We’ve shared the films you should watch in honor of Black History Month and the books to add to your to-be-read list, but celebrating the African-American achievements and the struggle for civil rights shouldn’t be a solo affair. Today, we’re sharing children’s books that honor the legacy of African-American civil rights leaders, artists, inventors, and more. Grab your copies in honor of Black History Month, but make sure your tiny ones are reading them all year ’round. These stories are that important.
1. March: Book One by John Lewis ($15): Representative John Lewis won the National Book Award for the third installment in his graphic memoir series, but the first one is just as much of a standout. The images are amazing, and the story is unforgettable.
2. The Youngest Marcher by Cynthia Levinson ($18): This book is especially powerful, given the proliferation of marches taking place at the moment. Snag a copy to remind your child what an incredible difference he or she can make, just by standing up for what they believe in.
3. Josephine by Patricia Hruby Powell ($18): Make your little diva’s dreams come true with this charming and inspirational story about Josephine Baker, a woman who proved you could knock ’em dead and fight for your rights, all at the same time.
4. Bronzeville Boys and Girls by Gwendolyn Brooks ($7): Gwendolyn Books was the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize for her magical poetry. Bring some verse into your child’s life with her playful poems.
5. Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Nevine ($18): While slavery can be a challenging subject for a young child to understand, this picture book will make it easier to explain. Come for the history lesson and stay for the stirring illustrations.
6. I, Too, Am America by Langston Hughes ($17): Langston Hughes’ poetry is truly a gift to the world, and now you can share it with your little one.
7. What Color Is My World by Kareem Abdul Jabar ($7): You might know Kareem Abdul-Jabar for his moves on the court, but he’s also a prolific author. More than just trivia, this book is a powerful reminder of the important contributions African Americans have made to the US.
8. When the Beat Was Born by Laban Carrick Hill ($18): If you can’t keep your kiddos from grooving to Bruno Mars and Beyoncé, get them this book about DJ Kool Herc, the man who pioneered hip-hop music.
9. The Quickest Kid in Clarksville by Pat Zietlow Miller ($17): The Olympics may be long behind us, but that doesn’t mean we’ve given up our obsession with the athletes. Give your budding athlete a book that will inspire her to run as fast as Olympic gold medalist Wilma Rudolph.
10. Strange Fruit: Billie Holiday and the Power of a Protest Song by Gary Golio ($20): This author and illustrator team have seemingly done the impossible by creating an age-appropriate story that doesn’t shy away from the true meaning of this song about violence against African Americans or Billie Holiday’s difficult life. It’s never too early to introduce your child to history, no matter how painful those historical moments might be.
11. Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe by Deborah Blumenthal ($18): If you don’t know who fashion designer Anne Cole Lowe is, then you’ve got some gorgeous dresses, including Jackie Kennedy’s iconic wedding dress, coming your way in this picture book. This book marries creativity with history, a combo we couldn’t agree more with.
12. Firebird by Misty Copeland ($18): We can’t stop paging through Misty Copeland’s incredible picture book that celebrates differences and encourages young girls to never hide their talents.
13. Trombone Shorty by Troy Andrews ($18): Got a budding pianist or aspiring drummer in your household? Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews’ story of overcoming adversity to become a superstar is a story they need STAT.
What’s on your bookshelf? Tweet us @BritandCo and let us know!
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